Category: Government Relations

2017 Federal Budget: Work in Progress for Oakville’s Business community

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is encouraged by the focus on skills development, but calls for increased investment in competitiveness trade-enabling infrastructure.

Yesterday afternoon, the federal government released their 2017 budget. The Oakville Chamber of Commerce welcomes the Government of Canada’s decision to focus on skills and innovation; however, the Budget delivers underwhelming implications for Oakville’s business community. Oakville’s businesses face more regulation and increased costs imposed by all levels of government for fees, taxes and essential inputs, like electricity. The Oakville Chamber believes more urgency is needed in reducing business costs and improving competitiveness. The Oakville Chamber has heard from its members for the need to address the current skills gap and has advocated this to all levels of government. The Chamber is encouraged with the Budget’s plan to invest $225 million over four years, starting in 2018-2019, to develop an organization which has three main goals: identify the skills sought and required by Canadian employers, explore new and innovative approaches to skills development, and share information and analysis to help future skills investments and programming. The Oakville Chamber is also encouraged with the Budget’s increased funding for work-integrated learning, which aligns with their policy priorities for 2017.
“Addressing the current skills gap is essential to creating a sustainable workforce. Our members have been asking for this type of investment and we are pleased to see the federal government delivering” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce.
Investing in the workforce helps create a competitive advantage, however; there is a pressing need for investment in trade-enabling infrastructure. The Oakville Chamber has been urging investment in the type infrastructure that will boost productivity.
“From our 2016 Advocacy Survey, our members stated the need for infrastructure investments in Oakville. In particular, their top three infrastructure priorities were all transportation related. They are local roads and bridges, public parking and transit” stated Faye Lyons, Vice President Government Relations & Advocacy, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Increased spending must be directed towards this kind of trade-enabling infrastructure that can transition our economy to an innovative and high-growth phase.”
Unfortunately, these types of investments represent just 11% of the total $120 billion in infrastructure spending. The Oakville Chamber is concerned about the lack of funding for this type of infrastructure in the Budget. Trade-enabling infrastructure delivers a significant return on investment and responds to the need for Canadian goods in the global market. Lastly, the Oakville Chamber would like to see the federal government recognize the increasing cost to doing business in Oakville, Ontario and Canada. In our 2016 Advocacy Survey our members stated rising costs as the most significant factor impacting business and industry, and this is an unfortunate reality faced by businesses across the province and throughout Canada. While the Oakville Chamber applauds the federal government for its focus on skills development and innovation, the infrastructure gap and the rising cost of doing business must be addressed in order for Oakville’s, Ontario’s and Canada’s businesses to be competitive. Read the full Budget 2017 Analysis by the Chamber.

Immediate Action Required to Address Deficiencies in the Provincial Interest Arbitration System

As a result of wage settlements resulting from the provincial arbitration system, the costs of emergency services have increased at over three times the rate of inflation annually since 2002.

 Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, formally released an open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne addressing deficiencies in the arbitration system. Cc’d on the letter were Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn and Minister of Municipal Affairs Bill Mauro. As recognized in the letter, the cost escalation resulting from settlements is unsustainable, particularly in an era of fiscal restraint generally, and especially in an environment where municipalities are greatly restricted in their options to raise new revenue. “Our principal concern is that the current system does not adequately consider the capacity of municipalities to pay” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “In order to ensure the fiscal sustainability of municipalities, we believe that immediate action is required to address deficiencies within the provincial interest arbitration system.” Therefore, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce is calling on the Ontario Government to take 3 important steps:
  1. Reform the provincial interest arbitration system to reflect the current capacity of Ontario municipalities to pay for increased service costs
  1. Improve efficiency by requiring that arbitration decisions be delivered in less than 12 months.
  1. Improve accountability and transparency for the taxpayer.
Read the letter here.

The Opportunities Canada Needs to Build the Next 150 Years of Business Success

In a year of political and economic uncertainty, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, has identified Ten Ways to Build a Canada That Wins, a list of key opportunities Canada can seize right now to regain its competitiveness, improve its productivity and grow its economy.

“Our list outlines specific recommendations on what Canada can do better, and the opportunities to improve our economic success. Canada can’t sit still while our competitors run laps around us. We need every advantage, and the Canadian Chamber will work with government to put these new measures in place,” said the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “If we take advantage of these opportunities, we’ll give our businesses new tools to ensure their growth and success.”

In this fiercely competitive world, business needs more than its own skills to win—it also needs a supportive environment and public policies to encourage competitiveness. This new version of an annual Canadian Chamber report moves away from identifying self-inflicted wounds that have prevented Canada’s economy from achieving its full potential and instead describes the opportunities for us to do better. “From fighting protectionism to upgrading Canada’s regulatory system or building a stronger Canadian brand abroad, each of these measures can have real and lasting effects on our economy,” said John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ve emphasized opportunities that touch Canada’s internal economy, from reducing the cost of doing business to dismantling internal barriers to trade. What we need now is a commitment to get the job done.” “As we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, we can look back at the essential role business played in shaping our country. But as we look forward, it’s clear we’ll need every advantage to continue building a more prosperous country. These ten opportunities can provide a foundation for the next 150 years of Canadian business success,” said Mr. Beatty.

Consult the Ten Ways to Build a Canada That Wins document. Watch a short video on the Ten Ways to Build a Canada That Wins.

Ontario’s Cap and Trade Program: How Will It Impact Your Business?

The Ontario Chamber Commerce recently released a document for Ontario businesses outlining the Cap and Trade Program and how it will impact them. Read it here.   We Want to Hear From You We understand that the cost of doing business in Ontario is rising. We want to hear about your expectations for operating under the new cap and trade program. How do you feel about the cap and trade program? How do you expect the program to impact your business? We will use this information to ensure that the voice of business continues to be heard on this issue. To share your thoughts please contact: Faye Lyons Vice President, Government Relations & Advocacy Oakville Chamber of Commerce 905-845-6613 x 211

Advocacy Wins for Business

As 2016 comes to an end, we’ve come to reflect on our meaningful advocacy wins for our members throughout 2016.

Here is a snapshot of some of the most recent progress we’ve made:

Closing Ontario’s Tourism Gap
Ask: In our recently release Closing the Tourism Gap: Creating a Long-Term Advantage for Ontario the Ontario Chamber Network advocated that the Ontario Government develop a government-wide Ontario tourism strategy with measurable targets. We also highlighted the need to work with tourism operators to reduce the regulatory and cost burdens within the industry by adding tourism to the Red Tape Challenge. Win: In Ontario’s Strategic Framework for Tourism in Ontario the government explicitly acknowledged the efforts and leadership presented by the Ontario Chamber Network through our solution based advocacy approach in the tourism sector. The report recognizes our efforts stating, that “The government is encouraged by the leadership that industry is already taking. Recently, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce released a forward-looking report on how the sector can collaborate to improve avenues for success. The report provides an examination of provincial tourism industry trends and presents recommendations for government and industry to work together to boost long-term competitiveness and generate sustainable demand for Ontario tourism.” Win: The mission set out within the report “to meet or exceed global industry growth over a five-year period, which the world tourism organization estimates will grow by an average of 3.3 percent per year until 2030” satisfies the Ontario Chamber Network’s recommendation of a long-term strategy with a clear industry growth target. Win: The Ontario government has signalled that it will add tourism to the Red Tape Challenge, a direct recommendation of the Ontario Chamber Network to help improve the operating environment for businesses.
Enhancing Ontario’s Agri-Food Trade Relationships
Ask: As recognized in our recent report Fertile Ground, global awareness and trust in Ontario agri-food products enhances the competitiveness of our industry abroad. Win: On November 14, 2016 Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Michael Chan, Minister of International Trade, arrived in India to lead Ontario’s first-ever agri-food trade mission. The mission was an attempt to attract new investment and aimed to continue to grow the agri-food sector globally. We are confident that the mission will enhance Ontario’s agri-food trade relationship with India. We look forward to continuing to work alongside government to ensure that the business community is well positioned to leverage new trade opportunities in the global marketplace.
Increasing the Number of Economic Class Immigrants
Ask: In our recent report Passport to Prosperity: Ontario’s Priorities for Immigration Reform,  the Ontario Chamber Network urged the federal government to reinstate the economic category immigration target to the 2015 range of 172,100 to 186,700 by no later than 2017/18. Win: During his keynote address at the launch event of the Ontario Chamber Network report in April 2016, Minister McCallum indicated his support for this and the remaining recommendations in the report. Win: In October 2016, Immigration Minister John McCallum announced that the Federal government plans to keep the immigration targets for 2017 at 300,000. However, the new plan represents an increase in a higher target for economic immigrants – increasing from 160,6000 in 2016 to 172,500 in 2017. This measure will contribute to the ability of Canadian employers to attract the global talent that they need to remain competitive.
Shaping the Future of Provincial Regulatory Reform
Ask: Over the course of our five-year Emerging Stronger series and in our pre-budget submissions, the Ontario Chamber Network has regularly called for a reduction in the regulatory burden on Ontario businesses. Win: In the Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, the government announced a series of steps to address the cumulative burden facing Ontario business:
  • The Red Tape Challenge, a strategy encouraging Ontarians to submit comments to a Regulatory Modernization Committee regarding regulations that impact them;
  • A Regulatory Centre of Excellence, which identifies and champions best practices from around the world;
  • A Government Modernization Fund to address the cost of modernizing outmoded regulatory processes;
  • A pledge to reduce the time taken to review air and noise approvals by at least 50 percent within the next two years, allaying concerns surrounding environmental compliance; and,
  • A promise to maintain the industrial exception in the Professional Engineers Act.
Shaping the Future of Mining in Ontario
Ask: The Ontario Chamber Network called for matching federal and provincial commitments for infrastructure investment in the mining sector in its report, Beneath the Surface: Uncovering the Economic Potential of Ontario’s Ring of Fire. Win: The Ontario Government announced it was committing $1 billion to the mining sector irrespective of federal funding.
Establishing Greater Transparency and Lower Costs in Energy Pricing
Ask: The Ontario Chamber Network called on the Ontario government, in its July 2015 report Empowering Ontario: Constraining Costs and Staying Competitive in the Electricity Market, to provide greater transparency in energy pricing. Win: The updated Ontario Energy Report, released in March 2016, included an industrial price chart that provides a clearer cost picture for Class A businesses. Win: In the September 2016 Throne Speech, the government announced that the Industrial Conservation Initiative will be expanded so that any company that consumes more than 1MW will be eligible. Accordingly, an additional 1000 companies in Ontario are now eligible to save between 14% to 30% on their bill, a noticeable increase from the 300 companies currently enrolled in the program. Win: The removal of the Debt Retirement Charge on commercial, industrial, and other non-residential electricity users on April 1, 2018, nine months earlier than expected.
Supporting Investment in High-Speed Broadband Infrastructure
Ask: In the Ontario Chamber Networks’s federal pre-budget submission, we urged the federal government to move beyond its Connecting Canadians initiative and invest in critical broadband infrastructure. Win: The federal government announced in its most recent budget that it is investing $500 million over five years in a new program to increase high-speed broadband service in rural and remote communities. Ask: On July 19th, 2016, the Ontario Chamber Network sent a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne asking the provincial government to commit infrastructure dollars to developing and expanding broadband infrastructure across rural and remote Ontario. Win: On July 26th, 2016, the Ontario government announced their plans to invest $90 million dollars to bring high-speed Internet access to over 300 communities in Ontario.
Improving Income Reporting Practices
Ask: In the August 2015, report Harnessing the Power of the Sharing Economy, the Ontario Chamber Network called on the provincial government to analyze income reporting levels in order to better understand the motivating factors behind providers’ decisions to report or not report income, and establish and clarify appropriate rules moving forward (e.g. minimum income thresholds). Win: On February 19th, 2016, the Ontario government announced a pilot project with Airbnb to help educate the home-sharing service’s hosts on how to report their income and other key regulatory aspects of their service industry.
Modernizing the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
Ask: Recognizing that the proposed Preliminary Rate Framework from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board could increase the premium rates paid by employers and, subsequently, the cost of doing business in the province, the Ontario Chamber Network provided the WSIB with a written submission outlining 10 recommendations that the WSIB and the Government of Ontario should adopt to mitigate the impact of the proposed reforms. Win: In December 2015, the WSIB released an updated Rate Framework that incorporates a number of suggestions and recommendations from the Ontario Chamber Network, including 6 of the 7 recommendations directed to the WSIB in our September 2015 submission:
  • Provide a public and detailed analysis of how the proposed rate framework changes will impact employers;
  • Introduce a surcharge mechanism to ensure that employers with effective health and safety programs don’t pay the cost of poor performing employers within their class;
  • Expand the proposed class structure;
  • Reconsider implementing the predominant class model;
  • Retain the Second Injury and Enhancement Fund (SIEF);
  • Implement a weighted cost claims ‘window’; and
  • Eliminate the Fatal Claims Adjustment Policy.
Win: In September 2016, WSIB Chair Elizabeth Witmer announced a 5% reduction on the average premium rates for 2017, the first rate reduction since 2001.
Mitigating the Impact of Retirement Security Reform
Ask: Recognizing the burden of the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), the Ontario Chamber Network called on the government to delay its implementation to provide more time for businesses to adjust to the new financial obligations. We also asked that the government provide greater clarity and broader classification for “comparability” to include some Defined Contribution plans. All the while, the Ontario Chamber Network was working toward our stated, preferred option to support retirement security through a national Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) enhancement instead of a stand-alone ORPP. Win: In June 2016, Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced that the Government of Ontario would be abandoning the ORPP in favour of an enhanced CPP, avoiding increased regulatory fragmentation and thus administrative burden – avoiding significant consequences for Ontario’s business community.  Win: In February 2016, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that her government was delaying the first phase of ORPP contributions from January 1, 2017 until 2018. Win: The government expanded the definition, meaning that employers who already provide certain DC pension plans for their employees will be exempt from contributing to the new ORPP.

Oakville Chamber “leading the charge” on increased affordability and transparency for energy system

Local business group calls on government to adopt auction style process when procuring for future sustainable energy supply   
Today, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Ontario Chamber Network is calling on the provincial government to take bold steps to address the affordability challenge of energy pricing in Oakville. In its submission on the Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP), Leading the Chargethe organization is calling on government to ensure that future policies regarding energy pricing are affordable, transparent and flexible. One of the submission’s top recommendations includes a call for the adoption of a capacity market system. Under the new Climate Change Action Plan, businesses are already facing additional costs. Since the 2013 LTEP, industrial rates in the province have increased by 16 percent, while the rate for households and small businesses have climbed by 25 percent. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and its members have consistently reported that the price of electricity is undermining business’ capacity to grow, hire new workers, and ultimately remain competitive. “Ontario is at a turning point in its planning process regarding the future energy needs of the province. In order for businesses in to grow and succeed, it is imperative that future energy policies address the concerns of businesses and support future economic growth,” said Caroline Hughes, Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “In our 2016 Advocacy Survey , 83% of respondents believe that energy costs are becoming a serious obstacle to doing business. Furthermore, 82% agree that the Cap and Trade Plan for Ontario should be delayed until its impact on business is fully understood.” Ontario’s energy system would benefit from the implementation of a capacity market. Under this structure there would be significant cost-savings for Ontario’s energy consumers through procuring shorter term supply on a cost efficient basis. For a capacity market to be successful in Ontario, the system would feature an auction style process where resources, such as generation facilities, imported resources, electricity storage and demand-side resources, are compensated for the potential energy they could produce. “As the provincial government seeks to find solutions to the province’s energy challenges, Ontario must strive to balance objectives regarding climate change, renewable resources and maintaining a diverse supply mix without forfeiting the competitiveness and transparency of the capacity market system,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “This will result in increased accountability and confidence in the energy market for Ontario businesses.” While the Ontario government is to be commended for some of the results it has achieved on the energy file (such as being a world leader in renewable energy resources) the status quo is presently unsustainable for ratepayers.

Oakville Chamber urges government to link investment in core infrastructure to productivity performance and enhancement

The Oakville Chamber recently co-hosted a Symposium with the Professional Engineers of Ontario – Oakville Chapter on “Smart Infrastructure”.  We brought together representatives from business, academia, government and leading industry experts to discuss one of the most critical issues facing Canada’s economy today, infrastructure. Canada’s infrastructure gap is not a new problem however, it has gained political attention as Canadians have become cognisant of both the financial costs associated with this underinvestment coupled with their personal costs.  The missed opportunities both economically and socially are being felt on a daily basis. Case in point, the most recent Oakville Chamber Advocacy survey revealed that congestion continues to be an obstacle to success for businesses and that infrastructure priorities need to be transportation related. Roads, bridges, highways, water systems, energy and communications are all services that are critical to our economic competitiveness. Canada’s current infrastructure deficit is estimated to be approximately $200 billion, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities claims that left unattended this deficit could potentially rise to as much as $2 trillion by 2065. According to the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card (CIRC) almost 60% of Canada’s core public infrastructure is owned and maintained by municipal governments and the total value of core municipal infrastructure assets is estimated at $1.1 trillion dollars.  While most of our infrastructure challenges are the responsibility of our local government, both the federal and provincial government have committed renewed investment to tackle our infrastructure needs.  Successful distribution of this funding will be achieved by the co-ordination, communication and collaboration of all levels of government. To that end, the Oakville Chamber welcomes both the federal and provincial government’s commitment of infrastructure funding, however we must ensure that the infrastructure funds are allocated effectively and efficiently to the right types of projects for Oakville. It is vital that investments are made strategically into projects that support the long-term growth of our economy. Many studies conducted share similar conclusions.  Investment in public infrastructure contributes to growth in labour productivity.  The largest occurring in construction, transportation and the wholesale/retail sectors. Consequently, moving into Phase Two of the federal government’s distribution of federal funds, the Oakville Chamber will be a strong advocate on behalf of our members to ensure that investments in Oakville are appropriately funded on productivity-enhancing projects.  We will be encouraging the government to adopt an outcomes-based approach to infrastructure funding instead of a project-based approach. Moreover, we will encourage the government to find a balance between its strategic objectives and ensuring that eligibility criteria for Phase Two infrastructure programs are flexible to ensure that communities like Oakville can meet their diverse needs. Moving forward, the need for a long term sustainable infrastructure plan will still be essential.  The new infrastructure demands coupled with the maintenance and future rehabilitation will further strain our resources.  This will only be compounded by further population growth. To this end, the Oakville Chamber will encourage the federal government to expand the use of public, private partnerships (P3s) while making it easier for smaller projects, like those at the municipal level, to attract private sector investment. Canada is a global leader in the use of public, private partnerships.  Locally we have seen the results of successful P3s through the construction of Oakville’s new hospital. We will encourage the government to look for innovative and collaborative approaches to help ensure that private sector money and know-how can be directed to projects that benefit communities of all sizes. On behalf of the Oakville Chamber members, we continue to advocate on this important issue to ensure that our local community benefits from strategic infrastructure projects to improve our economy and quality of life.  

$16 Billion Ontario Tourism Gap Requires a Dedicated Government Strategy

Lost Revenue From The Province’s Tourism Industry Impacting Job Creation and Growth

 Today, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has released new data that reveals a significant tourism opportunity gap when compared to international growth rates. According to the organization’s report, Closing the Tourism Gap: Creating a Long-Term Advantage for OntarioOntario has foregone nearly $16 billion in visitor spending between 2006 and 2012 by not keeping up with global growth trends. While this year has been a strong year for tourism in Ontario, it is important that this recent growth is translated into long-term, sustainable gains in tourism visitation. “The tourism industry is an important economic driver in Oakville as well as in many other communities across the province,” said John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber.  “However, through research outlined in this report, we’ve found that Ontario is missing out on significant tourism growth in comparison to international trends. Our local industry and the province as a whole must take steps to boost our reputation as a global destination for foreign visitors and close the tourism gap.” The Oakville Chamber’s report identifies a number of challenges faced by tourism operators and the broader tourism community in Ontario, while presenting a series of action items to address them. The Oakville Chamber is encouraged that the provincial government is moving ahead with an action plan for the province’s tourism industry, a key consideration highlighted by its membership. We are also very pleased with the local support for visitor attraction that we have seen from the Town of Oakville through the Visit Oakville committee. “Visit Oakville’s board of directors is reassured by the report and the support of the Chamber’s network” stated Meggan Gardner, Chair of Visit Oakville. “We look forward to a heightened focus on tourism and will continue to work with our partners within the industry, at the Chamber, and at all levels of government, to grow the economic impact of tourism that is both sustainable and supportive of a livable Oakville.” The Oakville Chamber’s report is clear about the need for any provincial strategy to include measurable targets, a practice currently employed by many successful tourism destinations. These targets would help to organize and coordinate tourism activities amongst the diverse group of public and private tourism organizations in Ontario, another key recommendation of the report. “Ontario’s tourism sector needs a dedicated strategy driven by the provincial government that not only promotes tourism within Ontario, but also focuses on drawing in visitors from around the world,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “If we can do this successfully, the province will achieve substantial economic gains while keeping up with global growth trends. To produce this report, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce convened a group of Ontario’s leading thinkers within the tourism community. The report builds on previous initiatives undertaken by members of the tourism industry and further substantiates the need for a focused and measured approach targeted towards supporting the future of tourism in Ontario.

Canadian Chamber of Commerce 2016 Policy Resolutions

Every year the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, along with Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade from across the country, are invited to submit resolutions of a national scope to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s policy process. This process culminates in a democratic vote on the floor at the Annual General Meeting. This year our submitted resolution, Tax Fairness for the Sports Entertainment Industry, passed.

For many years, the Federal Tax Code has discriminated against claiming golf memberships and related entertainment amounts as a business expense. You are aloud to take a client out to a hockey game and write off 50% of the cost as a business expense for tax purposes, but the same does not apply to golf. In a 2014 study, the golf industry employed just over 300,100 Canadians and contributed about $8.3 billion to the economy in household income, $1.4 billion in property and other indirect taxes and $2.2 billion in federal and provincial taxes. Based on direct, indirect and induced impacts, Canada’s 2013 golf cluster economic impact accounts for about $14.3 billion of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), up from $12.2 billion in 2008. Our recommendation is that the Federal Government amend the Tax Code to permit golf as a business expense similar to other business entertainment expenses, and that the cost of green fees and meals at a golf course be an eligible business entertainment expense.

Learn more about the Tax Fairness for the Sports Entertainment Industry Resolution.

The Success of Small Business Will Determine the Success of Ontario’s Economy


The latest report by the Oakville Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce  highlights the contributions of small businesses to the provincial economy, while also identifying, and offering solutions to, the most pressing challenges that small business owners face. The report’s recommendations are the result of detailed consultations over the course of six months held by 25 chambers of commerce and boards of trade with hundreds of small business owners throughout the province as part of the Ontario Chamber Network’s Small Business Too Big To Ignore campaign. The campaign revealed that the three major barriers that small businesses face are Business Education Tax (BET) rate reductions, a lack of access to the workers employers need, and government funding alignment on infrastructure projects. “In Oakville, local businesses are working hard to expand their operations, however they are facing some big obstacles including the rising cost of doing business in Ontario,” said Caroline Hughes, Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “The results of our 2016 Advocacy Survey showed that our members find rising costs to be the most significant factor impacting business and industry. Additionally, 64% of respondents believe that traffic congestion for getting staff to work is a significant obstacle for business, and almost 70% of respondents believe that current regulations are unreasonable and excessive. It is critical that regional governments work with the provincial and federal government to ensure that investments and programs are targeted to reduce operational costs and to support business growth in our region,” added Hughes. The report also highlights that businesses with fewer than 100 employees make up 98 percent of total Ontario businesses and two-thirds of private sector employment in Ontario. They contribute approximately 28 percent to the provincial GDP and created 87.7 percent of the new jobs nationally from 2005 to 2012. Given the significance of small businesses to the provincial economy, the Ontario Chamber Network urges the government to take immediate action to implement the following three recommendations in the near term:
  1. Continue the scheduled Business Education Tax (BET) rate reductions
  2. Develop a single access point for all government-funded workforce, training, and employment services.
  3. Have all three levels of government commit coordinated infrastructure dollars to connect all Ontario businesses to the 21st century global economy.
“Small businesses in Ontario are being held back by a diverse set of challenges that need to be addressed by all three levels of government.” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We are encouraging the provincial government to implement our report’s recommendations so that we can ensure that our economy will have sustained economic growth for many years to come.” added O’Dette. The Oakville Chamber of Commerce, along with the Ontario Chamber Network, encourages the provincial government to work closely with the employer community to implement the recommendations in the report. These recommendations will feature prominently in the Ontario Chamber Network’s advocacy work leading up to the 2018 provincial election. At that time, the advocacy organization will evaluate the political platforms of each party with a particular consideration as to how their campaign commitments align with the interests of small business owners in Ontario. Read the report: Obstacles and Opportunities for Small Business in Ontario